inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #126 of 163: David Adam Edelstein (davadam) Wed 25 Jun 08 09:15
    
Indeed, as Ed says, we're turning our Inkwell spotlight to our next
conversation, but there's definitely no reason to stop.  You guys are
welcome to continue teaching me more about Willie's involvement in the
music scene than I ever imagined possible, as long as you want.

Thanks to Joe Nick and Ed for a terrific conversation!
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #127 of 163: "The Best for Your Health!" (rik) Wed 25 Jun 08 10:21
    
Yes indeed.   It's lovely getting my memory jogged and the blanks filled in.
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #128 of 163: Joe Nick Patoski (joenickpatoski) Wed 25 Jun 08 11:08
    
Poodie's Hilltop is more of a beer joint than a cafe, although he
makes some excellent hubcap-size burgers with New Mexican green chiles
that he imports and freezes. And while his name and logo - a silhouette
profile that features his prominent beer gut and ponytail - is also
pasted to a line of barbecue sauces, he's more a bar owner than a chef,
even though he did learn to cook from his mama, Gloria aka Mama Locke,
who ran a boarding house in Waco that Billy Joe Shaver spoke highly
of. Poodie is something of a food aficionado as his gut attests. He's
quoted in the book critiquing the chef named the Beast, who cooked for
Willie in the late 70s, early 80s salad days. Poodie said the Beast had
to go because he cooked too much Italian fare, meaning everything was
baked, which left Poodie, among others, constipated. "Everyone knows
you have to have grease in your food to make a turd," he told me. But
of course.  

Poodie also knows of Cupp's, a white clapboard drive-in in Waco that
Danny Young turned me on to. They grill thin patty burgers like Dirty's
in Austin used to do, using the same griddle since 1938. Evidently,
the band and crew buses still stop in when they're passing through,
bypassing a Rudy's, the Health Camp, the Turkey Shop in Abbott (not all
that anymore) and the Czech Stop in West.


Listen, I've enjoyed it too. Y'all have asked some engaging questions
that made me think, I now know where the nexus of the creative arch is
in the book, and  I love hearing and telling stories, as you might have
noticed.

It's been extra special to me to be able to engage Ed in memory
jogging. We both have known Austin as a very different place than it is
today. Enough water's passed under the Congress Avenue Bridge to look
back and reassess what happened 30-40 years ago and how it informs the
hear and now. Doing this kind of history is a real turn-on because it's
fresh enough for a few witnesses to be lingering around who really
know what happened and eager to tell their stories to anyone who finds
them and knows what to ask.

rik, the memory jogging is perhaps the sweetest part, because a lot of
folks who've read the book say it's really jogged their memories. An
elementary school boyfriend of my sister who is a real estate magnate
wrote me about how the book brought back memories of hearing Ike and
Tina and Jimmy Reed at the Skyliner in Fort Worth when he was 16 (back
then you could legally drive if you were 14) and then how he first sold
real estate lots at Briarcliff when he was in college - which is
Willie's ranch and headquarters now. 

And it's not just Willie either. It's getting to write about all the
characters around him. Others may judge some of them to be shady types
or even underworld figures. I see them more as some of the last real
Texans left, bullshitting, loud, wild-eyed, sometimes obnoxious, most
always crazy, wholly lovable, honest one of a kind people you can't
forget. 

I leave you with the latest news of the main subject who, as always,
is still moving. The Wynton Marsalis-Willie Nelson collaboration will
be released right after a week's worth of Fourth of July Picnic mania
across Texas including Carl's Corner, Lubbock, San Antonio, and
Houston. Then it's on to the next, which is more roadwork this summer,
some church singing, and an album of Western Swing in collaboration
with Ray Benson.

Adios, til the next question.
   
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #129 of 163: Ed Ward (captward) Wed 25 Jun 08 11:43
    
Oh, man, the Willie/Ray I gotta hear! And I hope there's enough of
Blue Note left after this morning's firings to at least ship a couple
of the Wyntie 'n' Willie disc, although I, for one, am taking a pass. 

And yeah, memory jogging. I was trying to compose something to
complement the "shady characters" post when I remembered a couple of
them shooting a dog which had wandered backstage at the College Station
Picnic, kind of a low point in a series of low points, and then
remembered that that's where a bunch of Texas A&M students took an old
station wagon loaded with great barbeque and drove through the fence
because they'd heard that we were starving in there -- as we were,
backstage, and we didn't dare leave there because the same characters
would decide our passes were no good and we'd be marooned in a huge
crowd with no shade -- and fed the whole backstage menagerie. 

It's also where the Mother Earth band let me crash on their floor
after the Willie characters' promise of a motel room evaporated, and I
got a ride back to Austin with Joe Gracey, the most enthusiastic
promoter of "progressive country" ever. He talked and talked on the way
back, filling me in on things, and that was the beginning of a very
valuable friendship, although we've lost touch. 

Joe Nick, were you at that Picnic? Or did you have the sense to be
somewhere else? That was a real eye-opener for me: backstage I met all
sorts of people who helped me with articles and so on later: Jerry
Retzloff, the Lone Star Beer rep, whom you quote extensively -- and why
not, because he was such a fan; the people who published Pick Up The
Tempo, a sort of spiritual predecessor to No Depression; Doug Sahm,
whom I knew already from California, but who was deeply into his
Austin-as-Groovers'-Paradise mode. 

Uh, that didn't turn out to be a question, did it...
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #130 of 163: Joe Nick Patoski (joenickpatoski) Wed 25 Jun 08 12:09
    

I was at the College Station picnic, the 2d Picnic after Dripping
Springs, which I missed. It was crazy all around. Tim O'Connor was
nominally one of the promoters and his version sort of explained why.
He hired bouncers from Austin clubs to do security, which they didn't
do well mainly because they were hot and very loaded (one of them was
likely the dog killer), and Tim's partner was the county judge, who
basically ran Tim off and told him never to set foot in the county
again. I remember trying to find shade in the crowd and ended up laying
down under a car it was so hot until I hustled my way backstage, into
an RV with air-conditioning, and found myself sitting across a table
from Floyd Tillman, whom I proceeded to interview for the next couple
hours, mainly to stay cool. Turned out he was a bigger legend than I
fathomed at the time. 

I do remember Leon Russell still being a bigger draw than Willie and
just about everyone else on the picnic bill this side of Waylon, and
all I saw Leon do was drink Lone Star, expose his beer belly, and take
a piss off the side of the stage. 

The ugly side showed itself then. The next picnic at Liberty Hill the
next year was much better I thought (that's when I met you and
witnessed you signing for that bottle of Jack Daniels that room service
brought to you at the Hilton and you said Neil Reshen was paying for
it; I was sold on the rock crit lifestyle then and there) and then
Gonzales in 76 was just plain nasty, ending the first string of
picnics. 

Joe Gracey was perhaps the greatest promoter of Progressive Country
ever, because he was the best bullshitter of all the disc jockeys and
station personnel at KOKE FM. 'Course, as Bob Cole reminded me this
morning on KVET, I'd written that KOKE was great radio, but had lousy
ratings. At least Austin's grown enough so that those commercial
stations like KVET and KGSR who promote local and regional music
actually have significant audiences. Only a few hipsters listened to
KOKE, but man, what radio: Kris Kristofferson and Willie picking live
in the control room, just because they felt like it, Gracey, Speedy
Perez, Rusty Bell, Marty Manning, Steve Jackson, Larry Dinger, Nick
Spitzer who now hosts American Routes on public radio. I subbed for
Gracey when he quit before the ship went down and lemme tell, it was
some kind of cheap thrill to play Guitar Slim's "Things I Used To Do,"
and have Sir Doug call in, saying I was playing some cool music. 


 
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #131 of 163: surly guy in a tux (kurtr) Wed 25 Jun 08 12:30
    
Thanks for being so involved in the discussion, Joe Nick.  I really 
appreciate you taking the time. Likewise to Ed Ward.  It was a special 
treat to be able to hear what you all had to say.
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #132 of 163: Ed Ward (captward) Wed 25 Jun 08 12:32
    
Don't forget to tip your waitress. 
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #133 of 163: "The Best for Your Health!" (rik) Wed 25 Jun 08 12:42
    
But when you're done, stand her back up.
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #134 of 163: Joe Nick Patoski (joenickpatoski) Wed 25 Jun 08 13:52
    

Gracey's signature sign off when he was on Super Roper Radio: 
"Stay off your feet, drinking plenty of water, and come when you can."
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #135 of 163: surly guy in a tux (kurtr) Thu 26 Jun 08 17:18
    
One thing I'm curious about is how much money Willie makes from his 
non-musical ventures (Whiskey River liquor, licensed merchandise, 
BioWillie, etc) versus from his music.
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #136 of 163: Joe Nick Patoski (joenickpatoski) Fri 27 Jun 08 06:50
    

I'm not privy to the financials, but will say that merchandise is a
huge part of any entertainment act's income and Scooter Franks,
Willie's merchandiser, sets up a veritable Willie at his gigs on the
road. 

I don't think Old Whiskey River or BioWillie bring in that much
income. They're more like easy vanity projects compared to the
multimillion dollar endorsement deals Willie once did with Wrangler
jeans and the Gap. But overall, concert tickets and the accompanying
merchandise sales generate more income than album sales, record deals,
or endorsements do. Willie loves the road, but he also loves the income
it bring in, despite the skyrocketing costs of staying on the road.

Music still brings home the bacon, but it just isn't in the
traditional forms of record sales.
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #137 of 163: surly guy in a tux (kurtr) Fri 27 Jun 08 13:39
    
I was thinking that Willie might be especially valuable as a "brand," if 
you'll forgive the term, because of his longevity and inamge of integrity.
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #138 of 163: Joe Nick Patoski (joenickpatoski) Sat 28 Jun 08 04:59
    

Willie is a brand. Anyone recognizable by their first name only
certainly qualifies. He's got brand all right, which is why he's the
guy associated with Farm Aid, why Snoop Dogg sought him out for his new
video (check it out on You Tube), and why H and R Block sought him out
for their Super Bowl ad a few years back.

I dig that each of the above associated him with a different image -
friend of the family farmer, hemp advocate, tax survivor - none of
which have much to do with music.
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #139 of 163: david gault (dgault) Sun 29 Jun 08 10:48
    

Thanks again, Joe Nick.  

I'll look forward to reading your book on Stevie Ray, which I noticed
mentioned on the back of the Willie volume,  half an hour after I
suggested a Chesley Millikan book.  D'oh!

As for Austin,  Southwest is running a $79 one way special from Oakland
so I think I'll be back down for Sunday at the Saxon real soon.  
Willie's daughter is pretty cute and she's there all the time.  
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #140 of 163: Joe Nick Patoski (joenickpatoski) Sun 29 Jun 08 11:55
    
There's a whole lot of Chesley in the SRV book. Thanks for suggesting
him as a subject. The more I think, the better it sounds.

I did a signing last Weds at the Saxon Pub before Paula went on. Every
time I hear her, she gets better and better. Her band kept it light
and bluesy the other night, letting her voice carry the show. 

Last night I spoke to a fundraiser for the Austin Public Library and
testified about how critical libraries were to my research, ie. you
still can't find everything online; sometimes looking through the
stacks is the only way to get answers.

I also did my riff about how Willie is the most important Texan of the
20th and 21st centuries. I got a laugh when I mentioned how LBJ didn't
quite make the cut and did give props to Jack Kilby and the transistor
at Texas Instruments but opined he didn't reek of Texan-ness like
Willie does. When I was signing books afterwards, I was introduced to
Jack Kilby's granddaughter, who thanked me for mentioning her granddad.
I started to crawdad, apologizing, then signed in her book, "Here's to
your granddad, the other Texan's Texan besides Willie."

Take advantage of that $79 fare to Austin while you can. Those prices
will soon be a thing of the distant past. I flew SWA a couple weeks
back to LA and found it to be friendly and efficient as ever, although
the security line outside their terminal at LAX was one of the longest
I've ever been in.
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #141 of 163: From Casey Monahan! (captward) Mon 30 Jun 08 06:50
    
Question was asked Joe Nick about how working as a manager informs his
writing.

Some musicians on the receiving end of a critical review will write
fevered Letters to the Editor saying, "how could you write that -- you
can't even play music!" So it's always interesting when writers such as
Joe put down their pen to make a lateral move to management.

The music biz is one of the most backward and insular industries out
there. Learning how decisions are actually made is information usually
withheld from journalists. It's a trial-and-error world getting started
in music business (though thankfully there are a few good books now to
help managers and others learn the easy way through reading first and
then acting second).

Sleuthing through the many business decisions Willie made requires a
fundamental understanding of how artists make money in music. Who
better to hire than someone who has both a good BS meter (such as an
experienced journalist like Joe) and practical experience breaking (in
the honorific sense) and sustaining an artist's career (like Joe has).

There's usually a stunned reaction on the face of a non-music biz
person when I tell them How The Music Biz Really Works, a look that
says, "You're kidding me, right?" I mean, Steve Jobs is one of the
three most powerful people in the biz these days, and he doesn't even
really work in it. How is it that an industry can delegate its digital
policy to a third-party? Figure that out and you'll understand why so
many non-DIY artists are so frustrated with the higher-ups.
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #142 of 163: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Mon 30 Jun 08 07:28
    
The record companies not only haven't stepped up to the plate -- I
don't think they've even found the ballpark yet.

As a frustrated customer of the music industry, I'm not sure I even
want to know how it works, but it seems to me that they never went
through the maturation process that eventually came to the movie
industry when TV came along.  
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #143 of 163: Joe Nick Patoski (joenickpatoski) Mon 30 Jun 08 07:45
    

Managing music people certainly helped me write about music people
from a more informed perspective. 

The existing business of music as all have noted is a mess, and in a
sense deserves to whither on the vine, replaced by a new model of
distribution like I Tunes has done. The industry reacted to I Tunes and
I Pods by fighting online methods of accessing music, rather than
embracing the technology. By doing so, they started shoveling their own
graves because they turned consumers against them. Again, it's not
just the music business. All media are having to adjust, including
radio, TV, moves, newspapers, magazines, and yes, book publishers.

It'll be interesting to see what transpires. But from where I sit, the
Barnes & Nobles and Borders of today sure look a lot like Tower
Records did ten years ago. 

Those who are nimblest will survive the paradigm shift and profit from
it. Those resisting change the most are condemned to fail. 

Then again, what do I know? I'm just a content provider waiting to be
rewarded for providing content.
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #144 of 163: surly guy in a tux (kurtr) Tue 1 Jul 08 12:08
    
>Then again, what do I know? I'm just a content provider waiting to be
> rewarded for providing content.


We're a large, if unpaid crowd.

How do folks here feel about Willie's recenbt shows?  I've heard a lot of 
comments that he seems apathetic and sloppy in recent years.  I've been 
reluctant to shell out for a ticket as a result.
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #145 of 163: Joe Nick Patoski (joenickpatoski) Tue 1 Jul 08 20:20
    

The record business, as we've known it for the past sixty years or so,
is pretty much gone. They got fat, lived large, and before they knew
it, it all went away because kids were downloading and accessing music
the quickest, most efficient way they know, which does not include a
trip to the record store.

Willie's shows are not stellar exhibitions of precision. They rarely
ever were. Of the five shows I took in at the Fillmore last year, the
first two were inspiring and it wasn't just me, as Willie pushed beyond
his normal-for-these-day one and a half show. You could tell he was
having a good time. Two felt like they were phoned in, but maybe it was
seeing two really good shows first, and the fifth, well, I missed most
of it, gathering my baggage so I could travel on the bus after the
show, which I did. Since then, I've seen three shows and all's I can
say, there's no consistency, which is not a bad thing. If you want
consistency go see a band that plays the same show night after night.
Willie plays off the audience and likes to do audibles, even if it's
roughly the same band. 

I'd pay to see the Last of the Breed Tour again with Haggard and
Price. That was a powerful lineup and they played well off each other.

I saw Chuck Berry when he was Willie's age and it was a total ripoff.
For his age and all things considered, he holds up pretty well onstage.
It won't be like that forever, so I suggest even if you're mildly
curious, it's worth paying to see him and his band at this stage of the
game. 
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #146 of 163: My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Wed 2 Jul 08 10:02
    
joe--is UTPress going to republish your Selena bio?  I was going to try to
track down a copy of the book, but didn't know if i should wait for a new
edition or just track down whatever one was available now.
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #147 of 163: Joe Nick Patoski (joenickpatoski) Wed 2 Jul 08 11:06
    

UT Press looked at the book when I retrieved rights from Little, Brown
two years ago, and they've talked about doing an updated version as
well as a Spanish language version which Little, Brown opted not to do.

But it's been two years since it was last discussed, so I may have to
go hunting to a new publisher. I'd be glad to do an update because so
many characters around Selena have moved on to have interesting lives,
some in music, some outside music. The book was a disappointment for
Little, Brown and less than four months after it came out, I saw copies
dumped in stores at deeply discounted prices. I bought a few but
should've bought more. 

Little, Brown didn't understand Selena or her audience, and I feel it
was never marketed well. But as an author, the book brought me deep
street cred among Latino music fans especially Tejanos. I just taped
some interviews for a five hour Latin Music in America doc that PBS is
putting together because of the Selena book. Unfortunately, despite the
ambitiously grand sweep of the series, Texas and California Latinos
will have to share an hour. 

I suggest looking on Amazon or Abebooks for a hard bound copy of
Selena. rather than the abridged paperback edition. It's going to be at
least a couple years before a new version surfaces.

Publishers? Come on down!
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #148 of 163: My free and simple demeanor set everybody at ease. (pdl) Wed 2 Jul 08 11:31
    
thanks for the info and tip regarding the hard-bound copy!
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #149 of 163: Ed Ward (captward) Wed 2 Jul 08 13:56
    
Which brings up the question of when the Willie book might be out in
paper. Then you'll *really* see a royalty check! (Well, in a couple
years...)
  
inkwell.vue.329 : Joe Nick Patoski: Willie Nelson, an Epic Life
permalink #150 of 163: Joe Nick Patoski (joenickpatoski) Wed 2 Jul 08 15:59
    
  

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